Yuiko loves all animals...so much so that she scares them away with the intensity of her affection. One evening, while trying to get her cat home after accidentally scaring it up a tree, she encounters a wild-eyed boy covered in blood. The next day at school she learns that he's Leo, a new transfer student in her class.
Leo is rumored to have gotten into a fight with a group of thugs and won, and everyone's scared of him. Everyone, that is, except Yuiko, who's fascinated by and jealous of the way animals trust him and easily come to him. She approaches him and quickly finds out that he's actually very gentle and sweet, if unused to living among people. Apparently he used to live on an uninhabited island.
However, Leo has a problem. Anytime he sees blood, he blacks out and turns violent - possibly a defense mechanism he developed while on the island, to help him survive against predators. When Yuiko witnesses one such incident, she learns that she can do something no one else has been able to do: tame the beast inside Leo and get him to calm down.
This wasn't a bad volume, although some of the over-the-top details were a bit much for my current mood - things like the stupid blowgun, the repeated appearances by "Boss", the tough-looking softie, and the as yet unexplained detail about Leo having a Japanese-German mercenary as his guardian. Yuiko also drove me a little nuts - she demonstrated that she knew how to coax animals to her but would then screw everything by grabbing the animals and trying to cuddle them like a little kid who hadn't been properly taught how to treat other living beings.
I'm not all that wild about the premise. Leo is a gentle guy, except when he sees blood, at which time he turns into a scary killer who may once have ripped a leopard's throat out during one of his blackouts. And of course Yuiko turns out to be the only person in existence who's ever been able to calm him down with her presence and voice alone. The first time she tries, though, she doesn't manage it until after Leo has bitten her hard enough to draw blood.
There's a bit at the beginning of the volume that irked me: Yuiko's classmates, and even Yuiko herself (that bugged me the most), think it's strange that Yuiko is 17 and is more interested in cuddling animals than chasing after boys. People were literally telling her to stop wasting her time with animals, and I had to grit my teeth.
Throughout most of the volume Leo and Yuiko's relationship is more sweet and platonic than anything. Leo comes across almost like a child. Then things shifted a bit at the very end, and suddenly Yuiko thinks Leo has "a faint manly scent that I hadn't noticed before," and ugh. Really?
I wasn't originally planning on continuing on, but as I was doing a little research prior to writing this review, I noticed that the series is only two volumes long. It feels weird quitting when I'm technically halfway through, so I might see about getting volume 2 from the library at some point.
An extra unrelated short manga called "Fly" from early in the author's career. It's about a girl named Yui who's struggling because she wants to become a pilot even though her family expects her to go to medical school. She's convinced that if she sees a rainbow again before she graduates, her dream will come true, and her best friend Arata supports her. The story is pretty weak, although not as bad as the author's embarrassed one-page introduction led me to expect.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)